Kiwi stayer Sterling Prince won the Group 3 $251 500 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington on Saturday, the decisive victory largely increasing his chances of receiving an invitation to the Honk Kong International meeting next month.
It was a good finish at Melbourne for the Wayne Hillis-trained six-year-old after earlier disappointment when the gelding failed to win the Lexus Stakes and earn a start in the Melbourne Cup. Prior to his fifth place finish in the Lexus, Sterling Prince ran a strong third in the Geelong Cup on October 21 behind Leica Ding.
On Saturday Sterling Prince ($18), ridden by the masterful Hugh Bowman, atoned for his fading finish in the Lexus, outstaying his rivals in the 2500m handicap to score a two length victory ahead of Crossthestart ($26) with Naval Escort ($17) a further length back in third.
It was a proud moment for Hillis, as Sterling Prince became the first New Zealand trained galloper to win at the Flemington Carnival. It was also the stayer’s first win over 1600m and his fifth victory from 28 race starts.
A run in next Saturday?s Group 2 Sandown Classic (2400m) has mostly been ruled out, with all the focus on $2.2million Hong Kong Vase (2400m) for which they are hoping to get an invite.
Hillis has also been adamant that Sterling Prince will return to Flemington next spring for the Melbourne Cup, vying to follow in the footsteps of the magnificent Makybe Diva, who won the 2002 Queen Elizabeth Stakes prior to her first Melbourne Cup victory in 2003.